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How to Shop for Electricity in Illinois

Electricity choice means people can shop around to pick the right plan, rate and provider to supply electricity to their home. Direct Energy is proud to offer tips and tools to consumers so they can find the right electricity plan for them.

electricity Illinois
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Let's Get Learning!

Choose your own adventure by selecting from the categories below or keep scrolling to get the full rundown on how to shop for electricity.

How Do I Sign Up for Electricity?

You can sign up for electricity in just a few steps:


Create an account with your utility

If you haven't already, you'll need to create an account with your local utility. Unless you're moving, you should already have an account.


On contract with your current provider?

Check whether you are under contract with your current provider. If you are, make sure you won't be charged an early termination fee if you switch providers before your contract ends.


Have your utility bill on hand

Have a recent utility bill on hand, as you'll need your utility account information to enroll with a competitive provider. If you're moving and haven't received a bill yet, you can contact your utility for this information.


Shop for your perfect plan

Shop for the electricity plan that fits your needs. After you sign up, your new provider will contact your local utility to complete the process.

When will my power be turned on?

The time it takes to turn on your electricity varies based on when your local utility can connect your home. Be sure to leave yourself enough time to shop and sign up with your new provider, and check your utility's timeline to make sure you can get your electricity turned on when you need it.

Are there fees associated with signing up?

Some utilities may charge a switching fee when you sign up with a new provider. Make sure to check with your local utility for more information.

Electricity Utilities in Illinois

Things To Consider When Shopping For an Electricity Plan


Electricity rates will usually be listed as cost per-kilowatt-hour (kWh), the unit used to measure electricity consumption.

Total Costs

Total costs include your electricity charges (the rate multiplied by your usage) and utility fees associated with delivering electricity to your home. Even if one plan has a lower rate than another, your total monthly cost could end up being higher, depending on the plan.

Plan Benefits

What extra benefits, like smart home products, green energy or free nights or weekends, do the available plans provide? Any electricity plan will power your home; how do the plans you're considering add value to your lifestyle?

Term Length

Consider what term length (the duration of your contract with the provider) would fit best for your situation. Are you renting for a short period of time? Would you prefer to keep the same electricity rate for a while? Will this contract end before a peak usage season when electricity prices are higher?

Ready to Shop?

Now that you're a savvier energy consumer, are you ready to find your perfect plan? Enter your zip code to check out our offers for your area.

Glossary of Terms

Here are a few terms you'll see when shopping for an electricity plan:

Electricity Deregulation

In deregulated areas, customers are no longer required to sign up with their utility for electricity. Instead, they can shop offerings from available competitive electricity providers to find the best one for their household.

Electricity Deregulation


Your local utility is responsible for transmitting, connecting and disconnecting electricity to your home, and for reading and maintaining your home's electric meter. The utility also maintains the power lines and other equipment used to transmit electricity. In some deregulated areas, your utility may compete on the electricity market, selling its own electric plans to customers.


Competitive Provider

Retail or competitive providers vie to provide electricity to customers. In areas with deregulated electricity, customers can shop and compare electricity plans from various retail providers, like Direct Energy.

Electricity Provider

Kilowatt-Hour (kWh)

A kilowatt-hour is the unit used to measure electricity usage. It represents the consumption of one kilowatt, or 1,000 watts, for one hour.


Electricity Rate per kWh

The rate per kWh is the price you pay for each kWh you use. This price is set by your electricity provider.

Electricity Rate per kWh

Term Length

The term length is the duration, usually in months, of your contract for an electricity plan.

Term Length

Electricity Meter

Your electric meter is used to measure how much electricity you have used each billing cycle. Your local utility reads and maintains your electric meter. If you've chosen a retail or competitive provider to supply your home, the utility sends this information to your provider so you can be billed accurately for your usage.

Electricity Meter

Fixed-Rate Plan

With a fixed-rate plan, you'll be able to lock in an energy rate per kWh for a term length of your choosing. Fixed-rate plans protect you from market price fluctuations, but you will typically need to sign a contract and your rate may be higher than the market rate during seasons with low energy demand.

Fixed-Rate Plans
You can be fluent in the language of energy with our energy glossary.

What is the Average Electricity Bill?

Your electricity bill can vary based on many factors, so it can be difficult to determine what an average electricity bill looks like. The best way to calculate your average electric bill is to look at your past bills. If you're moving to a different home or region, you can get an idea of your average electricity costs by researching similar homes online or asking other residents in the area. The average electric bill depends on the following elements:

Home Size

Smaller homes typically use less electricity than larger homes because less electricity is needed to run lights, heating and cooling and other appliances and electronics.

Weather & Climate

Some regions tend to experience a mild climate and pleasant seasonal temperatures, taking some of the workload - and electric usage - off a home's air conditioner and heating system; residents of regions with more extreme temperature swings may need to use these systems more to maintain a comfortable indoor climate.

Usage Habits

If you develop energy-saving habits like turning back your AC or heating and unplugging electronics, you might have a lower bill than if you were less conscious of your usage.

Appliance Efficiency

Your heating, cooling and large appliances are major energy users, accounting for up to 73 percent of the average household's energy use. Appliance efficiency and regular maintenance can affect how much energy your appliances use.

Home Energy Efficiency

Factors like windows and insulation can affect how your home uses electricity. Well- sealed windows and good insulation can help your air conditioner and heating system use less electricity by keeping the treated air inside your home and the hot or cold air out.

Electricity Rate

Obviously, the price you pay per kWh of usage will also affect your bill.

Read more about what can affect your electric bill.

Pricing, Billing & Fees

How does billing work?

You will typically receive your electric bill from your local utility every 28-32 days, depending on when your utility reads your electric meter. Your bill includes the energy charge for your usage (charged by your provider) and operational costs (charged by your local utility) associated with providing electricity to your home.

If you are a Direct Energy customer, you will still receive your bill directly from your local utility. You will usually see Direct Energy as a line item on your bill under "supply" or "generation services".

Payment Options

You will usually pay your electric bill through your local utility even if you have opted to buy your electricity from a competitive provider like Direct Energy, so contact your utility to for information on your available payment options.

Electricity Utilities in Illinois

How much will my electric bill be?

The amount of your electric bill will vary based primarily on your electricity usage. There are two major parts to your electric bill: the charges for the electricity you use in your home, and your utility or delivery charges, which cover the operational costs of delivering electricity to your home. The utility charges are the same for all residents in that utility's service area. You can calculate your bill by adding up the electricity usage and utility costs.

Learn more about your energy bill.

Understanding Prices and Plan Documents

Electricity regulators in your state may require electric suppliers to create and display documents detailing information for each of their electric plans. These documents provide vital insights like the rate, term length, fees and other stipulations. You can use them as tool to help you compare potential costs of a plan against your current bills, and also against other electricity plans you may be considering.

Learn more about plan documents

Pick Your Perfect Plan!

We have a variety of electricity plans to help meet the needs of your home and family. Our fixed-rate plans allow you to lock in an electricity rate for a term length of your choosing and get protection from market price fluctuations.

Moving Tips

Are you moving to a new home?

Check out our Moving Hub for moving checklists, buying and renting guides, moving out of state and other tips on how you can have a stress-free move.

Moving Tips
Smart Meters

Smart Meters

Smart electric meters are becoming the new standard in electric metering. They provide valuable benefits like the ability to turn on electricity more quickly and track your use more closely, and the opportunity to sign up for time-of-use electric plans, which allow you to get free electricity at certain times.

Learn more about smart meters.

Renewing With Direct Energy

Renewing Your Plan

What About Renewing?

We'll notify you at least 30 days before your contract expires and give you the opportunity to explore your new plan options. If you don't choose a new Direct Energy plan or switch providers before your contract expires, we'll put you on another plan with us. Don't worry – you'll be notified beforehand of the plan rate and details.

Current Customers

Current Customers

If you're a current Direct Energy customer looking to renew with us, you can view renewal plans by logging into your Online Account Manager or contacting us.

If you're moving, you can also transfer your service with us to your new address by contacting us.

Electricity Rates for Illinois

We have a variety of electricity rates and plans so you can find the best one for your home.

Select Your Utility To View

Plan Name Region Plan Term Rate
State Site Live Brighter 13 Ameren 13 months 5.79 cents/kWh
Live Brighter 36 Ameren 36 months 6.79 cents/kWh
Go Green Lights 24 Ameren 24 months 6.99 cents/kWh
Live Brighter™ 18 Ameren 18 months 6.39 cents/kWh
Live Brighter™ 12 Ameren 12 months 6.29 cents/kWh
Plan Name Region Plan Term Rate
State Site Live Brighter 13 Commonwealth Edison 13 months 7.79 cents/kWh
Live Brighter 36 Commonwealth Edison 36 months 8.39 cents/kWh
Go Green Lights 24 Commonwealth Edison 24 months 8.79 cents/kWh
Peak Savings 12 Commonwealth Edison 12 months 15.49 cents/kWh
Free Power Nights 12 Commonwealth Edison 12 months 10.69 cents/kWh
Live Brighter™ 18 Commonwealth Edison 18 months 8.49 cents/kWh
Live Brighter™ 12 Commonwealth Edison 12 months 8.29 cents/kWh
Free Power Weekends 12 Commonwealth Edison 12 months 12.89 cents/kWh

Have a question about a plan or need help placing an order?

Call us: 1-855-461-1926

Hours: 7:00am-7:00pm CT Monday-Friday, 7:00am-4:00pm Saturday

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